The City of Marion was founded June 1860 when settlers in five covered wagons were told by surveyors at Emporia that there was good, virgin farmland about 60 miles to the southwest. The surveyors called it the best land in the territory.
One of the travelers in the group, George Griffith was the first to build a shanty on the site where the Santa Fe Depot (Now the Santa Fe Depot Library) stands and was also the first in Marion County to file for a homestead, doing so on August 8, 1860.
The official naming of the settlement came when a post office was established here in 1862. Because the settlement was located near the center of the county, the name Marion Centre seemed appropriate.
The population of Marion Centre increased at a faster rate after the Civil War ended. William Billings is credited with building the first stone residence.
Marion Centre had increased in population by the early 1870’s to a point where it could file for incorporation as a third class city.
An election was held September 3, 1875 and a Mayor and Council form of Government was established. Officers elected were as follows. Mayor, J. H. Costello; Councilmen, Frank Doster, E. N. Eby, Frank Bower, William Kellison, J. N. Rogers and T. T. David; City Clerk, John Williams; City Marshall, J. S. Griffith; Police Judge, R. C. Coble; City Treasurer, N. W. Gordon.
Two changes took place in the 1880’s regarding Marion Centre. First the "Centre" was dropped from the town name. The Post Office has used the name Marion since October 15, 1881. The city adopted it officially on January 17, 1882. Second, because population increased, the city became eligible for second class status. Therefore on May 25, 1888, Governor John A. Martin proclaimed it a second class city.
Marion has the distinction of being the oldest settlement in Marion County and boasts a population today of 2,110 residents. Each year Marion commemorates this fact with the celebration of "Old Settlers Day".
There are several historically important, beautiful and well preserved homes from Marion's early days. If you would like to take a self-guided tour to these homes, click on the picture above. A new window will open with a PDF document that explains the history behind each of the homes, gives the names of the present residents and gives the present address of the home.